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Why is the Great Commission Important?

Written by: James Greene

In His final words to His disciples, before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus gave them a task, commanding them by saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” This is known as the “Great Commission.”

Despite its fundamental significance to Christianity, recent studies and surveys have revealed that If you asked 76% (https://www.barna.com/research/half-churchgoers-not-heard-great-commission/) self-identified churchgoers what the Great Commission is they wouldn’t be able to tell you.  

The Great Commission has been historically and universally accepted as the most comprehensive statement in the Scriptures concerning the mission of the Church, which is agreed upon by virtually every denomination, and yet most “Christians” do not know what it is.  

According to a LifeWay Research study in 2018, only 17% of churchgoers surveyed could accurately describe the Great Commission’s purpose and scope.

According to bible.org Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ. Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.

Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism. Seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of the Great Commission. 

This is the final task that Jesus gave to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven, the supreme missional task given to the church.


There are at least 5 reasons why I believe the Great Commission is being neglected. 

1. We aren’t preaching or teaching on the Great Commission

In church, you are more likely to hear a sermon on tithing than on the Great Commission. I know this because almost every churchgoer knows about tithing yet over half of them don’t know what the Great Commission is. If that is not a good indicator of the heart condition of a church then I don’t know what is. 

I wish I could say that churchgoers are being taught about other fundamental doctrines and core tenants of Christianity instead, but the general consensus of multiple surveys on the average churchgoers’ knowledge of their faith tells us that there is a significant lack of understanding of some of the most basic fundamental aspects of the Christian faith. 

2. We have many misconceptions about the Great Commission

Most Christians who have heard about the Great Commission oftentimes have many misconceptions about this task and what it calls us to do.

  • It’s not my responsibility. A significant portion of regular churchgoers perceive the Great Commission as the responsibility of their pastors, missionaries, and other select individuals within the church rather than accepting their own role in engaging the lost and making disciples. Even pastors sometimes don’t take it seriously. I remember sitting in a Sunday service some time ago and the pastor literally said that we did not have to get on the mission and make disciples because Jesus said on the cross “It is finished.” The work was done, he said. I was dumbfounded. If those words, “It is finished,” meant that we don’t have to get on the mission of the Great Commission, then why did Jesus give the disciples the task to begin with? 
  • Church Planting. Many also interpret the Great Commission as a call to plant churches and construct buildings. Nowhere in scripture is there a command telling us to do this. Scholars estimate that there were 480 synagogues (https://www.bible-history.com/jesus/jesusThe_Synagogue.htm) in Jerusalem during the time of Christ and Jesus never went out and built another one and never instructed His disciples to do so either. 
  • Preaching and Evangelizing. The Great Commission has also been mistaken as the call to go preach the gospel and evangelize to all the world. Though preaching the gospel and evangelization is certainly a part of the Great Commission, it is not the whole of the task. Making disciples is more than just preaching the gospel and evangelizing; it is guiding people into a relationship with Jesus and into the work of the mission of the kingdom of God.
  • You must serve overseas. Another misconception is that you have to leave your country and fly halfway across the globe, and we know that not every believer is called to do so. The work of the mission begins where you are.
  • Human effort and works. Another misconception is that we think we can fulfill the Great Commission through the work of our own hands. This great task is impossible for us to accomplish in and of ourselves, which is why Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to receive power to be His witnesses.

3. We are not being discipled or equipped to engage the mission

According to another Barna group survey conducted in 2022, 39 percent of Christians are not being discipled at all, 28 percent are being discipled but are not discipling others, (which tells me that they are not being effectively discipled), 28 percent are in a discipling community and only 5 percent are actually discipling others. 

It has been my experience and observation that the discipleship most people receive tends to resemble more of a counseling session with your therapist than a radically transforming Spirit-filled life on the mission. 

4. We don’t want to

Another reason why most Christians don’t take the Great Commission seriously is because they very simply don’t want to. For many believers, Christianity is an institution that exists primarily to meet their own spiritual and emotional needs and desires. This is what we call “consumeristic Christianity.” A Christianity that is all about you and has very little to do with what God wants and what He is doing elsewhere in the world.

The reason some folks don’t believe in missions is that the brand of religion they have isn’t worth propagating.” – Unknown

God is at work all over the world advancing His kingdom and His purposes, and you and I have the honor and privilege to join Him in what He is doing. We must be willing to give our lives to do this.

5. We are not filled with the Holy Spirit 

The most significant reason why Christians do not take the Great Commission seriously is that many are not filled with the Holy Spirit.


It is the Holy Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth and helps us to obey the commands of the Lord.  

He intercedes on our behalf. He unites us, edifies us, encourages us, convicts us, and transforms us. He empowers us to be witnesses for Christ. Without the Spirit of the living God, there is no life to impart.

I am heartbroken over the number of people who have never been taught about the Holy Spirit.

I remember some years ago when I attended an inter-denominational Bible camp as a teenager there was a young girl who had just given her life to the Lord.She began reading the Bible on her own when she came to the passage of scripture in Acts where the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples at Pentecost and she realized at that moment that she, too, needed the Holy Spirit. 

She didn’t know who the Holy Spirit was or very much about Him but she knew that she needed Him. When our team gathered for prayer and devotions she told everyone about how she was reading the Bible and believed that God was telling her she needed the Holy Spirit and asked for someone to explain who He was and how to receive Him. Our team leader immediately jumped in and said, “Sorry but the Holy Spirit is a controversial topic and we are not allowed to talk about it.” I was astounded. How could this be? Why is the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Holy Trinity, too controversial to even talk about? I encourage you to be filled with the Holy Spirit.


Global Frontier Missions says that over 3.3 billion people have no realistic access to the gospel and less than 3 percent of cross-cultural missionaries are working amongst the most unreached people groups (Ref: Southern Baptist Convention Research – Paul Elliot’s Lecture Note). 

Oswald J. Smith said that “Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.”

The Great Commission is what God is doing right now in the world and if what you are doing is something other than the Great Commission than you are doing something other than what God is doing. 

Brothers and sisters, I do not write this to rebuke and condemn. I write this with a heavy burden in my heart, a burning conviction that compels me to exhort and encourage you in the responsibility that we share as the Church. This great task that has been entrusted to us must not be forgotten and neglected.

We have been called to be His ambassadors in this world, to proclaim the good news of salvation to all nations. This mission is not a suggestion but a divine imperative, a sacred duty that we must carry out with fervor and perseverance.

These words echo in my spirit, resounding with urgency and purpose.

Let our hearts be burdened for the lost and the broken, the addict and the drunkard. Let us not be content with the way things are, but be driven by a holy dissatisfaction that compels us to share the hope that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our words and actions must reflect the love, grace, and truth that we have received, drawing others into the embrace of our Savior.

Let our lives be living testimonies of the transformational power of the Gospel. Let our words be filled with compassion, our actions with kindness, and our hearts with a burning passion for the lost. Let us labor, diligently, together, hand in hand, as we strive to fulfill the Great Commission that He entrusted to us.

May the love of Christ compel us, may the fire of the Holy Spirit ignite us, and may the urgency of the Great Commission move us. Together, let us press on, knowing that our labor is not in vain and that the reward of our faithfulness and obedience is to one day stand and worship Him side by side with our brothers and sisters from every tribe and every tongue before the throne of God. 

In the name of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen. 


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The Keystone Project is a global missions network of churches and leaders committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.

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